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ICYMI: Senator Hassan Hosts Youth Mental Health Roundtable in Manchester, Highlighting Federal Funding

MANCHESTER – In case you missed it, Senator Hassan hosted a roundtable on youth mental health at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Manchester. The Senator heard from medical experts and advocates, including the NH Department of Health and Human Services, UNH, Dartmouth Health, the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, and Makin’ It Happen, about how they are using new federal funding to address mental health challenges.

Last year, Senator Hassan helped pass into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which has provided New Hampshire with significant federal funding for mental health programs, including to support teens in rural communities and reduce the risk of youth suicide. For instance, UNH and the Manchester School District are using federal funding to train and place 80 graduate students studying social work in local schools.

Senator Hassan also recently questioned the U.S. Surgeon General about how to strengthen youth mental health, where she highlighted concerns she had heard from young Granite Staters. The President also signed into law a bipartisan bill from Senator Hassan and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to strengthen mental health resources for young people and help prevent youth suicide. In addition, Senator Hassan worked with her colleagues to establish the 9-8-8 hotline and subsequently pushed to secure funding for it in the latest government funding legislation.

See coverage highlights below from the Boston Globe, NHPR, and Manchester Ink Link:

Boston Globe: As funding for mental health initiatives arrives in NH, advocates say work remains

By Amanda Gokee

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New federal funding for mental health is already at work in New Hampshire, boosting programs throughout the state. But advocates said more work lies ahead.

The money has gone toward initiatives including community trainings to address mental health issues, training the police in de-escalation, and the start of two new UNH graduate programs.

[…] Senator Maggie Hassan, who helped secure the federal funding, hosted the roundtable.

[…] Hassan said she’s considering another approach: federal legislation that would ban children under 12 years old from social media, which has widely been linked to poor mental health among children.

“New Hampshire and the entire country are facing a mental health crisis,” she said Monday. “When I travel around New Hampshire it is one of the first things, if not the first thing, almost everybody wants to talk about.”

NHPR: Meeting youth mental health needs remains a priority – and challenge – for NH providers

By Paul Cuno-Booth

Mental health services for children and teens continue to be a pressing need in New Hampshire in the wake of the pandemic, according to providers and advocates who spoke at a roundtable in Manchester Monday.

[…]The speakers – who included advocates, representatives of mental health providers and the head of the state’s behavioral health division – described various ways they’re trying to meet that need, supported by recent infusions of federal funding.

That includes planned investments in community mental health, efforts to better integrate mental health services in schools and a new University of New Hampshire graduate program that aims to train school social workers.

[…] Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, organized Monday’s event.

“When I travel around New Hampshire, [mental health] is one of the first things, if not the first thing, almost everybody wants to talk to me about – regardless of where they're from in the state, what community they live in, what kind of work they do, whether they have family members with mental illness or not,” she said.

Manchester Ink Link: Hassan holds UNH Manchester mental health roundtable

By Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) held a roundtable discussion with local leaders on the issue of improving youth mental health.

Hassan told the panel that throughout her travels across New Hampshire, the lack of mental health access is one of the key issues she hears from constituents and her colleagues in the Senate report hearing the same thing in their states. At first, Hassan found that she had difficulty discussing youth mental illness due to the standards of her generation, but she found that young people continued asking her about the topic and their advocacy has helped bring a spotlight to the issue.

In Congress, Hassan discussed funding for mental healthcare from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and funding to prevent youth suicide in the StandUp Act, as well as other federal funding for local programs and organizations fighting to improve youth mental health access.

One of those programs is taking place at UNH Manchester, where UNH Research Associate Professor Mary Schuh talked about a new graduate student initiative working to bring greater mental health to underrepresented populations and develop best practices for youth mental health in schools.

“We want to make sure that young people who are experiencing challenges, whatever they are, have leaders within their schools and mental health leaders they can look up to,” said Schuh.

UNH Student Loreley Godfrey said that some of the programs discussed during the roundtable for younger people in schools would have be useful in helping her skills prior to an incident when her friend had a panic attack while driving. Eventually, she learned what she needed to help her friend by looking for strategies over the internet on her phone.

“I know every sort of person in New Hampshire will benefit from the sorts of resources that are being discussed today,” said Godfrey.

Beyond resources specifically targeted at schools, other mental health initiatives discussed included improvements to the 988 program, updates with SAMHA and Manchester’s Makin’ it Happen program, mental health programs for law enforcement personnel, efforts by Dartmouth to fight isolation among rural communities.

Hassan also asked the roundtable about progress being made in discussing mental illness, with a generally positive response from the assembled experts, even though challenges still exist regarding timely funding sources.